I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say, “I don’t know anything about cars”. Don’t get me wrong, I can drive (but to be fair I am not very good at parallel parking), but there is no ‘petrol flowing through my veins’. I do not go all tingly at the sound of a revved engine and am not really impressed by the screech of tyres as the lights go green. A good indication of my level of car enthusiasm is that one of our company cars is a Toyota Isis – that is right, like the terrorist group.
So when I tell you that the new Land Rover, The Defender is pretty cool, you know how far it has had to go to impress me. My first comment after driving it up muddy banks, through rivers, over what seemed to be impossible cliff-faces was that it was ‘like flying a spaceship’. There are bells and whistles on the bells and whistles. There are cameras and indicators and flashing lights for it seems, every occasion. Everything about this vehicle boasts of great design merged with functionality. It is simply classy.
At Kauri Bay Boomrock near Clevedon, which overlooks Kauri Bay towards Waiheke, there is some serious space so that the new Defender Series could be put through its paces. I had been to one of these days in the past and kind of knew what to expect. On the first time around the muddy, steep, water-saturated circuit you are a little nervous. It is not a cheap car and your bank balance would not like it if you caused an issues, however once you have been around the circuit and once you have worked out what the car can do, your confidence takes hold and you can really start to push the boundaries.
It is very unnerving on a very steep slope facing straight downhill towards a pond at the bottom, and the instructor twiddles with a small dial on the steering wheel and says, ‘Ok now quickly take your foot off the brake’. He did not say shut your eyes, but I did that anyway. Instead of the brand-new Land Rover hurtling down the bank to a watery conclusion, it simply drove itself, slowly down the steep grade and into the water – without me doing anything.
The vehicle is nothing short of amazing; it tells you if your wheels are pointing the wrong way, which you might feel is obvious but when rim-deep in mud it’s really handy, it also visually lets you know what wheels are off the ground, which wheels are in four-wheel drive. You can click a button to choose what type of terrain you will be going over and the car automatically adjusts. There is a camera showing you exactly what the ground looks like under the wheels; it even has a wading mode for the inevitable river crossing (it has a ground clearance of 291mm – read that on the brochure!) The car is so smart that at over 80kms it lowers itself from off-road mode to normal.
It has ‘independent double wishbone and multilink suspension with cross-linking’, which in layman’s terms means it knows how to stick on the ground regardless of the terrain.
If you want a complete list of all the bells and whistles, if you’re that car techie nerdy type who needs to know the fuel capacity and turning clearance you can read up about it here https://www.landrover.co.nz
The Defender also comes with a range of ‘packs’. Explorer, Urban, Country and of course Adventure, each designed to make the vehicle even more appropriate for its owner use. For example, this is what comes with the Adventure pack:
Everything you need to head off the beaten track. The Adventure Pack includes front and rear mud flaps, spare wheel cover, bright rear scuff plate, portable rinse system, integrated air compressor, exterior side mounted gear carrier and seat backpack.
How many cars come with a portable rinsing system!
The people at Land Rover explained and repeated that it was such a difficult step to recreate The Defender because it is such a historic flagship of the company. Land Rover has always been an icon for class and performance. This new vehicle takes that prowess to a new level.
If like me and you are sold on the Defender, you can chat to the good people at https://www.landrover.co.nz/retailer-locator about getting your own one.